UFC books Jeremy Stephens – Mateusz Gamrot

Jeremy Stephens

The UFC has finalized a lightweight matchup that will take place in July. MMA Junkie was the first to report today that the promotion has finalized a matchup between Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1 NC) and Mateusz Gamrot (18-1, 1 NC).

The contest will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. Last night we also learned that Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises will also be on the July 17th Fight Night. This fight is a big fight for Mateusz Gamrot.

The former KSW lightweight champion will be making just his third appearance in the UFC. Gamrot made his debut back in October and the Polish lightweight suffered his first career loss. He lost by split decision to Guram Kutateladze on Fight Island.

Gamrot bounced back in April when he knocked out Scott Holtzman in the second round of their fight. Jeremy Stephens still has a big name and a decent following so this is a huge spot for the UFC newcomer. A win over Stephens would likely get him someone in the top fifteen.

UFC return for Lil Heathen

Jeremy Stephens will be making his lightweight return on July 17th. However, he was supposed to make his lightweight return last month. Stephens was set to take on Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) just a few weeks ago.

Both men weighed in, but everything went south at the pre-fight faceoffs. Stephens shoved Klose and he shoved him so hard that there was whiplash which caused Klose to suffer a concussion.

After a rough night dealing with those symptoms, the UFC called off the fight. It was an extremely stupid move by Stephens and ended up costing him a payday. Now, he’s getting a new opponent.

Originally, the promotion was going to book Klose and Stephens again, but have decided to move in a different direction. Now, Stephens will try to snap his four-fight losing streak against a very hungry challenger in Mateusz Gamrot. Should be a good one on July 17th.

New York Yankees: How many will be allowed to board the plane tonight?

The New York Yankees potentially have big problems ahead. They already have seven staff members, and potentially Glyber Torres infected with Covid 19. And tonight, they all have to board a plane for Baltimore, where there will be no social distancing. It would seem obvious that some staff will have to remain in Tampa.

The New York Yankee players took a vote as to whether they should play or not on Tuesday night. They voted to play, and the Yankees won the game 3-1. Last night there was no vote; they played and shut out the Rays. Tonight with this situation getting worse, it could be a different story. Much depends on whether the questionable results from shortstop Glebyer Torres and if they come back as positive.

Regardless of the results or if they play the game tonight, it has to be concerning that they will have to be in close quarters on the Delta charter to Baltimore tonight. They will be held up in the plane’s cabin for a little over two hours.

What is most concerning is what we don’t know. What’s really going on, and what is causing these infections to spread so quickly among staff that has all been vaccinated, that should be approximately 94% protected from the virus.

The concern among the team is at various levels. In preparation for him taking the mound tonight, Jameson Taillon choose not to use the training room to do his workouts. Instead, he did his workouts far out in the right field while being masked.

Although this is unclear, this became a problem late Sunday and Monday. If anyone tested positive up to that point, it is unknown, but apparently, everyone was allowed to board the plane for the three-plus hour flight to Tampa, Florida. Tuesday morning, 3rd base coach Phil Nevins’s positive test became known. Within hours there were more positive tests, and as of this morning, that has increased to seven, including 1st base coach Reggie Willits, 3rd base coach Phil Nevin, and pitching coach Matt Blake and 4 other unnamed support staff.

If Gleyber Torres comes back positive, he would be the first player to contract the virus while in Tampa, which opens up a whole can of worms on whether the Yankees play tonight or not and how they will go forward. MLB may have something to say about that as well.

Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com as this story develops.

 

Yankees: Good news and bad news in Cole domination over Tampa Bay

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees overcame the Tampa Bay Rays for the second consecutive game on Wednesday by a score of 1-0. As Tampa sits at .500 on the season, the Yankees have pulled four games above the .500 mark. However, their offense continues to struggle, having scored just four runs over the past two games and 11 over the past four games. Thanks to incredible pitching, the Yankees have managed to spark a bit of momentum and positive progression.

Again, pitching has been the primary catalyst as of late, and starter Gerrit Cole had a phenomenal outing against Tampa to record his fifth win of the season.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

Cole was a bright spot in the victory, lowering his ERA to 1.37 on the year. He lasted 8.0 innings, throwing 106 pitches and racking up 12 strikeouts. He allowed just four hits, gifting Aroldis Chapman his easiest save of the year.

It is always a massive benefit to the team when the starting pitcher can go eight innings and give the bullpen a good rest, especially since the Yankees’ relief arms have been heavily relied on as of late.

Nonetheless, the Yankees’ offense continues to struggle, recording just six hits and striking out 10 times in the victory. If not for Cole, the Bombers would likely have lost this game — blanking any given team in the MLB is unlikely.

However, starting outfield, Clint Frazier was tossed from the game for arguing balls and strikes. Specifically, a strike inside has Frazier bewildered, aggressively talking back to the home-plate umpire. Even Giancarlo Stanton gave Bill Miller an earful after a questionable strikeout in the fourth inning.

This was Clint’s first career ejection, and skipper Aaron Boone didn’t seem too distraught by him being launched from the game. Ultimately, Frazier has struggled at the plate this year, hitting just .146 on the season and striking out once in the victory. Thankfully, the top of the order for the Yankees has saved them, as five of their six hits came from Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela in the three and four slots.

The Yankees will finish off the series on Thursday evening against Tampa Bay and then prepare for a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

Yankees’ Gerrit Cole reaches impressive personal milestone: ‘He’s an absolute bulldog’

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees could only score one run yesterday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Fortunately, that’s all they needed to win, in large part because the man on the mound was just unhittable, as he has been all season. Gerrit Cole pitched eight shutout innings and struck out 12 foes in an unbelievable, yet extremely common for him, performance.

“He’s an ace,” Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said of Cole to MLB.com. “He is an absolute bulldog. I think he lives for pitching when it’s tough and in the biggest of games. In a 1-0 game, we needed all of it. Even though he breezed through some of those innings and made them look pretty easy, there was a ton on the line with every pitch.”

The streaking Yankees have left behind the memories of their slow start, and are now a single game behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL East lead. The Bombers have taken 11 out of their last 14 games.

The Yankees’ pitcher is breaking records

During the third inning, Cole struck out Brett Phillips to nail down his 1,500th career punchout, a number that is easy to read but definitely not easy to reach.

The Yankees’ right-hander is now the fourth fastest to achieve the milestone, doing it in 1,315 1/3 innings according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Cole was definitely happy after his performance.

“I certainly enjoy playing in meaningful games,” he said. “There was a lot going on today, and it was a bit challenging to get focused for the game, but once you’re there, it was business as usual. I try to keep that mindset all the time; it’s helpful when there’s a little bit more on the line.”

When everybody thought Cole was finished, he struck out the side in the eighth inning, hurling a 99 mph fastball to Phillips to end his night. It was simply magnificent.

“He looked pretty dialed in the entire night, but if he needs to find an extra gear to get even better, he’s capable and equipped to do that,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Former Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey was emotional after standing ovation at Citi Field: ‘I was holding back tears’

Wednesday marked the first time pitcher Matt Harvey pitched in front of New York Mets’ fans at Citi Field since he was traded to Cincinnati in 2018. He had ups and downs during his career in Flushing, and his fair share of incidents, too, but he was a key cog in the 2015 World Series run and fans don’t forget those things.

The Mets ended up winning the game, and Harvey wasn’t particularly sharp on the mound. But the fans cheered him before the first pitch and gave him a standing ovation. Talking to the press after the game, he thanked the fans in attendance.

“There was a lot of excitement, a lot of memories,” Harvey said, per SNY. “Obviously there’s been so many ups and downs here at this ballpark and with this organization, I really didn’t know what to expect. What the fans gave me out there was pretty incredible. I was holding back tears. I’m not going to lie about that, it was pretty hard holding them back. Reminded me of a lot of the good memories, and coming off the field with an ovation like that, it brought a lot back and it was very special to me. Something I’ll never forget.”

The fact remains that Harvey was a very important contributor for the Mets in the first half of the 2010s. Injuries have taken their toll, sure, but he is now trying to revive his career with the Baltimore Orioles and is not doing so badly.

The Mets won, but Harvey appreciated fans welcoming him back

Sure, yesterday’s performance, in which he allowed seven earned runs to the Mets in 4.1 frames, increased his ERA significantly, but he was in the high-3s before the game.

“Obviously I wish things went differently, I wish the score was flip-flopped,” Harvey said. “My job is to go out and keep runs off the board, and obviously I didn’t do that regardless of who we were playing and the situation. It was a rough one. I felt like I made some decent pitches and they were tough, they made me work, they hit the ball the other way well. They kind of went against the scouting report that I had used from the last previous games or in the last week, week and a half. They hit the ball where we weren’t and made me work.”

In 2015, Harvey was a true ace for the Mets, going 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 2-0 with a 3.04 in the postseason.

“Yeah it was hard, this is a very special place to me,” Harvey said. “I’d like to say I gave everything I had here. Especially in that 2015 run, it was really something special and I left it all out there for everybody, for the fans, for our teammates. That was a big year for us as a team and the city of New York. Those memories definitely came in when I got some cheers and got the standing ovation. Like I said, it was absolutely incredible.”

New York Knicks lock in play-off berth, but it can get even better

new york knicks, tom thibodeau

The New York Knicks officially claimed a playoff berth, meaning a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference, which guarantees they won’t have to play-in to the postseason. With the Boston Celtics falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday evening, they gifted the Knicks a guaranteed spot. Quite the early Christmas gift from Boston, an unlikely team to help the Knicks get into the playoffs.

However, this feat for New York has been earned through blood, sweat, and tears, playing intense basketball, and aggressive defense. The mentality that head coach Tom Thibodeau has rolled out this season has been welcomed by the players and contagious to the veterans, especially for guys like Derrick Rose.

With the Boston defeat, the Atlanta Hawks also sealed a postseason spot, meaning the four, five, and six seeds have all been solidified, but there is room for wiggle as the Knicks try to improve their landing spot over the last three games of the regular season.

Via social media, a plethora of Knicks players posted their excitement regarding clinching a playoff spot, as Julius Randle stated, “Check it off the list. We not close to done.”

Randle has had himself an All-NBA level season, as he’s currently averaging 24 points, 5.9 assists, and 10.3 rebounds per game. He has been the Knicks’ fearless leader this entire season, playing through injury and making big shots down the stretch the past few weeks. His confidence has spilled over onto other players as well, notably second-year guard RJ Barrett. Barrett is averaging 17.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 5.8 rebounds, an improvement in every category compared to his rookie season last year.

The Knicks have the number one ranked defense of the NBA in points allowed per game, but they also have sufficient firepower to score enough points to keep games competitive or emerge victorious. The Knicks have a few competitive games to finish out the year, including a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday evening. Afterward, they will take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday and Boston to finish off the year on Sunday. If they can win all three games, they could find themselves in the 4th seed, which would give them a better opponent to work with in the 1st round.

The intensity and energy shouldn’t falter after securing a playoff berth; they must continue playing high-level basketball and focusing on improving their game as they try to peak as the postseason commences.

New York Giants’ Blake Martinez details ‘awesome’ free agency and atmosphere around Big Blue

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have had an eventful off-season, littered with high-profile free agent signings and a strong draft class. Acquiring WR1 Kenny Golliday, CB2 Adoree Jackson, and a bevy of adequate depth pieces, the Giants are heading into the 2021 season with a revitalized sense on both sides of the ball.

For current players, watching the Giants go out and spend big money to acquire more talent was exciting; it represented the progress and forward momentum of the organization.

This present-day Giants team is far different than the one we experienced in recent years, ranging from personnel to front office decisions. Even the players noticed a change, compared to their old teams or just in one off-season with Big Blue.

Arizona radio station interviewed Giants’ LB Blake Martinez, who described the difference between playing in New York and Green Bay — they were quite extreme:

“I think the biggest difference between both is the age of the given guys on either team. I think in Green Bay, it was a lot of older, veteran guys, where in New York it was a lot of young guys still in that college mindset and everyone hung out with each other and had that camaraderie. Not that we didn’t have that camaraderie in Green Bay, but it felt more like a high school (or) college vibe in New York,” Martinez said.

The locker-room aspect of any given team is extremely important, but the camaraderie the Giants currently have is outstanding. The coaching staff has put together a disciplined roster containing a variety of demographics, ranging from youth to veterans. With so much youth on the team, there has a college feel to it, which boosts morale and excitement.

The New York Giants had an “awesome” offseason:

“It’s awesome. Throughout the whole thing, I was excited, especially with the free agency process and the guys we brought in on offense and defense. In the draft, we got multiple defensive guys — a couple outside linebackers, a cornerback, the list goes on. The sky’s the limit, and I think the potential is there, but each and everyday as a group, we just have to keep going back to that foundation and that culture and put that work in to be able to reach that potential. If we do that, I think it’s going to be a very successful year.”

That is exactly what you want to hear from your mike linebacker, who played such an integral part in boosting the defense to a top 10 year in 2020. Martinez finished his first season in blue with 151 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six QB hits, 3.0 sacks, and a career-low 6.2% missed tackle rate. Martinez is a reliable player, playing at all 16 games despite battling injury at points of the season. He set the example for the younger guys, and with Martinez’s excitement, should come an even better 2021 campaign.

UFC books Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises

The UFC has finalized a big matchup in the lightweight division pitting two top prospects against each other. Brazil’s Thiago Moises (15-4) will try to stop the hype train of Islam Makhachev (19-1).

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto confirmed the fight last night with UFC President Dana White. The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. This is a massive opportunity for Thiago Moises.

Moises is not currently ranked in the lightweight division. However, he has won his last three fights. His wins include victories over Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez.

While he doesn’t have a spot in the UFC rankings, these wins have him knocking on the door. His opponent is being looked at as a future UFC champion and if Moises can pull off the upset, it will say a lot about him as a prospect.

UFC return for Makhachev

Islam Makhachev just looks like he’s going to be a UFC lightweight champion. He fights very similar to his training partner turned coach Khabib Nurmagomedov. Of course, Nurmagomedov retired undefeated as the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.

Makhachev has great striking and of course he has his Dagestani wrestling. The last time we saw Makhachev was at UFC 259 when he took on Drew Dober. Makhachev completed dominated the fight and submitted Dober in the third round.

With that win, Makhachev has now won seven fights in a row. To be honest, I’m a little surprised this is the direction the promotion decided to go. I figured Makhachev would be in to fight someone in the UFC’s top ten.

In terms of rankings, this is actually a step back as Dober is still ranked in the top fifteen and Moises is not ranked. This almost has the feel of a tune-up fight just to keep Islam Makhachev active.

Whatever the UFC’s reason was, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Makhachev will be back in July and he should be a massive favorite to pick up his eighth straight victory.

New York Yankees: Seven Yankee staff test positive for Covid 19

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Just when everyone was reassured that Covid 19 would be less of an issue, seven New York Yankee staff members have tested positive for the virus. What makes this more remarkable is that all are “breakthrough” cases, meaning that they have become infected after being fully vaccinated.

What concerns this writer is that with all of these guys being fully vaccinated, why has the virus spread so quickly through the group. Little has been revealed as to what vaccine they received and when they received it.

Although the New York Yankees say no players have tested positive, there is a mystery going on with Gleyber Torres, the Yankee’s shortstop who was left off the lineup last night in “an abundance of caution.” Apparently, all of the Yankee staff have been tested at least 3 times since arriving in Tampa. It seems as though Torre’s test was inconclusive. The Yankees are waiting for all the tests to be returned as of last night’s game.

Manager Aaron Boone has not commented on exactly what is going on with Torres, only saying, “We do expect that final ruling or whatever, potentially by tonight.” As of the end of the game last night, there was no further information available. If Torres is indeed infected, it could potentially cause big problems for the team going forward.

The New York Yankees were the first team in baseball to reach the 85% vaccination rate suggested by MLB to reduce some of the protocols. You have seen fewer players and staff wearing their masks in recent games and paying attention to the social distancing suggestions. That was not the case last night; all management and several players were masked when not on the field.

On Tuesday and Wednesday night, the player development coach was filling in as the first base coach. Boone’s bench coach Carlos Mendoza was on the field taking Phil Nevin’s place as third-base coach. Also notable absent last night was pitching coach Matt Blake. Blake is the third Yankee coach to be confirmed case of the Covid 19 virus. Boone said he is asymptomatic, as are six of the seven other virus cases.

Filling in for Blake was bullpen coach Mike Harkey who also manned the bullpen and has been seen talking to pitchers in the dugout, particularly Jordan Montgomery on Tuesday night. Blake, although not on the field, is still working with pitchers through text and Facetime.

“He’s been FaceTiming a little bit. I’ve been texting with him about (Thursday) for my start, but for the most part, like not to say we don’t need him, we obviously do. He’s great to have around and he’s great at his job. But we have a lot of guys that kind of coach each other‚” Jameson Taillon said. “Like tomorrow, I’m sure Gerrit (Cole) will be right there with me every step of the way. We’ve got Harkey, we got (director of pitching) Sam Briend here today and our pitching staff talks amongst each other.”

No one knows how this will out pan out, but the writers and management of EmpireSportsMedia.com hope all the Yankees recover quickly and that it doesn’t affect the team or any other team this baseball season.

 

 

 

 

New York Giants: Evaluating week 1 opener against the Denver Broncos

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

With the 2021 regular season schedule being released on Wednesday evening, the New York Giants are set to play the Denver Broncos in week one. While the Giants would normally face off against the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles, this contest came out of left field. However, the Broncos are no pushover, despite having a quarterback controversy that involves Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Denver is unsure which QB will end up starting, as a position Battle will likely unfold throughout training camp.

Nonetheless, Lock understands the scheme more proficiently than Bridgewater, who was traded from the Carolina Panthers after they acquired Sam Darnold from the Jets.

Either way, the Giants will have a defensive advantage, despite Denver having a solid group of receivers, including Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Courtland Sutton. Big Blue bolstered their secondary this off-season, acquiring Adoree Jackson to man the CB2 spot. With the existing players of James Bradberry, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers, the Giants should feel confident going into a contest against a team that doesn’t have an established quarterback to get the ball to his receivers.

As for the running back position, the Broncos have Melvin Gordon as their primary option, while the Giants feature Saquon Barkley. The Giants, last season, allowed the 10th least yards per game on the ground with 111.4. Denver, on the other hand, ranked at the bottom of the pack, allowing 130 per game.

The strong point for the Broncos is in their secondary, where they have a fantastic unit out of DBs with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, and the new addition of Patrick Surtain out of Alabama. That is not even including their safeties, Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. The Giants will need to be clicking on all cylinders to beat a secondary as strong as Denver’s, but it will represent a fantastic challenge in week one after bolstering the unit this off-season.

The New York Giants need their young QB to show off his skills:

Ultimately, Daniel Jones will need to be on top of his game, making smooth reads and hitting his receivers in stride. He will have little room for error against a strong defensive back core. As for the Denver pass rush, they have Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, two of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. They will put significant pressure on the young offensive tackles the Giants plan to feature next season unless Nate Solder manages to beat Matt Peart for the starting job at right tackle.

Denver dealt with a significant number of injuries last season, including a significant knee injury to Sutton that forced him to miss nearly the entire season. With a healthy squad to start the year, the Giants will have a significant challenge ahead, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated because of their quarterback situation.

This game will come down to a few factors, including a heavy reliance on the offensive line, Daniel Jones accuracy, and the Giants’ ability to put pressure on whatever quarterback Denver plans to roll with. As stated before, the Giants must be clicking on all cylinders to dominate this game, otherwise, this could easily become a more interesting ordeal.